Casino Gambling

Xbox and beer pong? An inside look at Harrah’s new multimillion-dollar sports bar

The infamous 406 Club is returning to Biloxi, this time as a high-tech, multimillion-dollar sports entertainment venue.

The 406 Club is phase two of the sportsbook at Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino. It will have little resemblance — beyond the name — to the original 406 Club that was a known bookie joint in downtown Biloxi.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich considered the establishment such a part of Biloxi’s history that when it came time to officially open the new brick-paved Howard Avenue on May 17, he symbolically started the ceremony at 4:06 p.m.

Keeping with that kind of gambling speakeasy theme, this new 406 Club will have three Fan Caves, where people can escape to watch the game on their own television — or play a game on the Xbox system stashed in each cave.

Like the cabanas next to the swimming pool, these semi-private hideaways can be rented for a party or just a more secluded place to watch the game. Two of the caves have seating for six and one for eight, and dedicated food and beverage service is part of the experience.

For those who want the noise and excitement of the crowd on game day, the 406 Club will have that, too. Interactive LCD screens will keep up with the action of the games while fans eat, drink, listen to live music and play their favorite bar games, including beer pong, shuffleboard and foosball.

Sports tech

Illegal sports betting may have been around for decades in Biloxi, but the new way to bet on sports involves technology. Fans at Harrah’s will use kiosks to make in-moment sports wagers powered by Scientific Games’ OpenBet Technology.

Along with a kicked-up audio/visual system, the club will be the first in the state equipped with Bar Top Gaming by Interblock. These devices feature 18 games, allowing people to play up to four traditional casino games at once like blackjack and non-traditional games simultaneously.

Inspiration for 406 Club comes from the sports entertainment venue at The Linq, a Caesars property in Las Vegas. Work in Biloxi began in April and the 406 will debut for the opening kickoffs of this year’s football season in late summer.

Biloxi-Vegas connection

Coast casinos have come a long way in the year since sportsbooks opened in August, just three months after the Supreme Court ruled against the ban on sports betting.

“When we opened The Book last August, we knew it was the first phase of many in the sports betting and entertainment arena for our casino and resort,” said Jonathan Jones, general manager of Harrah’s Gulf Coast.

The club was designed by Friedmutter Group with assistance by Dale Partners Architects in Biloxi, and is being built by Yates Construction, based in Biloxi.

“The construction and launch of 406 Club is the next step in that evolution, and is made all the more exciting by our parent company, Caesars Entertainment’s, exclusive, first-ever casino partnership with the NFL,” he said. “That partnership, coupled with last month’s announcement of a new collaboration with ESPN, makes Harrah’s Gulf Coast the authority on the Coast for sports betting and entertainment.”

The 406 Club will add to the history of the name. The 406 Club in Biloxi was raided by the federal government, as were dozens of bars and homes raided by authorities across the Coast all the way up to the early 1990s, when casinos began opening. The betting equipment was seized and the owners of the illegal betting parlors were charged with misdemeanors.

Bobby Mahoney, owner of Mary Mahoney’s Old French House restaurant in Biloxi, remembered the 406 when he placed one of the first bets in the state on Aug. 1, 2018.

The name extends far beyond Biloxi to Fenway Park in Boston, where the .406 Club, with a decimal to denote a batting average, was dismantled in 2005. The space provided 3,000 more seats for Red Sox fans to watch home run balls fly over the big Green Monster.

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.